Assessing periodization in histories of literary translation


  • Isis Herrero López Independent scholar


history of translation, literary translation, periodization, historical periods, translation historiography


When investigating the history of translation of Jane Austen in Spain, I always feel the need to establish historical periods to handle materials, data and trends. From time to time, I also feel the need to redefine those periods, even to use different time frames altogether. However, it is only irregularly that I find academic debates about such an important part of research on translation history. In the present article, I examine the way in which we, Translation Studies scholars, reflect on periods and periodization systems. I build my analysis around three interlinked questions: the type of periods we use, how we use those periodization systems, and why we use those periods and not others. I examine theoretical reflections on translation history, and include practical case studies from four national histories of translation and/or literary translation (China, Finland, Turkey, and Spain). At the end, I emphasize that we, as a discipline and as individual researchers, must debate critically about our periods and periodization systems in order to advance in the study of history of translation with awareness and analytical perspective.